Nanfangao Fishing Port in Yilan County, Taiwan. Photo: Google Maps

Two captains and six Indonesian fishermen have been arrested for smuggling illicit cigarettes after Taiwanese authorities recovered nearly 150,000 packets of illicit cigarettes from two fishing vessels in the waters of Yilan County of the island’s northeast.

An intelligence report by investigators from Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration found that a syndicate had been deploying fishing vessels to traffick illicit cigarettes to meet strong market demand due to the Chinese New Year, China Times reported over the weekend.

Two fishing vessels returning to Nanfangao Fishing Port at 7pm last Friday (Feb 9) were thought to be suspicious because they had a heavier than normal displacement.

Officers raided the two boats, both of which contained secret chambers, storing a total of 149,000 packets of illicit cigarettes with an estimated worth of NT$7.45million (US$253,762).

Two Taiwanese men surnamed Li and Chen, who were prime suspects, were arrested along with their six Indonesian migrant fishermen.

Officials said they would continue to pursue the source of illicit cigarettes and to identify the smuggling syndicate involved.

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